R6: ATC Oaks – 2400m 3YOF G1 SW $1,000,000

The Track

The track is currently a Soft 6 (Thursday) with a 50-60% chance of further showers on Friday and/or Saturday morning.  At this early stage we anticipate a surface somewhere between Soft 5 and Soft 6 come race time.

The rail is out 6m from the 1600m to the winning post. That will make the inside going a little better than last week, but off fence and middle to wider draws are still likely to be better suited.

Speed and Tactics

There looks to be plenty of early pressures in the Oaks this year. Jameka (16), Self Esteem (13) and Believe (11) all look to have little option but to press forward.

Single Gaze (9) and Zasorceress (4) will be up there looking for positions handy to the pace and they will present genuine opposition for those wider runners looking to cross over.

The end result should see a genuinely run race that becomes a decent test of 2400m ability.

Early Pace Rating: Average to Above Average

Late Pace Rating: Below Average to Slow

Best Suited: Off Pace Runners 3L to 6L off the lead

Race Overview

Below are the ratings that recent Oaks winners have run to:

  • 2015 – Gust Of Wind – 104.5
  • 2014 – Rising Romance – 103.5
  • 2013 – Royal Descent – 107
  • 2012 – Streama – 103.5
  • 2011 – Absolutely – 102.5
  • 2010 – Once Were Wild – 105.5
  • 2009 – Daffodil – 102.7
  • 2008 – Heavenly Grow – 103

Jameka presents in this year’s race with the highest peak of any runner, a 101.5 from last week’s Derby, supported by her 101.1 in the VRC Oaks last Spring. That suggests this year’s race could be one of the lowest rating editions in recent history. However we typically see one or more runners go to a new peak in this race, making the historical winner rating typically higher than the lead in form during that year.

A key to this year’s assessment is not only examining at the exposed form and ratings of contenders, but also looking for runners that could potentially go to a clear new peak, at least in the 102.5 to 103.5 range that five of the last eight winners have run to.

Runner by Runner Analysis

1. Jameka (16) $4.60 MKT: $3.60

Comes off a very solid 101.5 last Saturday when second to Tavago in the Derby and looks well set up for this coming in off a seven day back up on soft ground. That’s clearly the mark the others have to beat here, but there’s some query whether she can go to a clear new peak, which based on history could be required to win this. This is her 14th race start in her third racing preparation. In addition to that, she was afforded a soft run up on a gentle speed in the VRC Oaks and looks likely to do more work early here from a very wide draw in a race with more genuine speed. She’s definitely a top chance and we have no real knock on her, but with a doubt about her ability to run to a new peak it’s hard to see anything that the current betting market is underestimating.

2. Single Gaze (9) $26 MKT: $15

She won the Vinery last start which is a key lead up to the Oaks, but was well suited by a slow early speed and there’s doubts about her ability to stay a more solidly run 2400m.

3. Honesta (8) $16 MKT: $11

Got too far back last start in a slowly run Vinery, but worked home solidly for sixth beaten 2.6 lengths. A more genuine 2400m will suit, but only has a peak of 97.5 and faces a big task to get to the 102+ that is likely to be needed to win.

4. Sacred Eye (1) $61 MKT: $21

Had every chance last Saturday when beaten 2.4 lengths in the Adrian Knox, which was well below the standard needed to win this. Barrier 1 is also a negative. There’s little to like about her.

5. Ambience (3) $61 MKT: $41

She was third to Jameka in the VRC Oaks but hasn’t shown anything this preparation to suggest she can be competitive in this.

6. Valley Girl (10) $8.00 MKT: $9.00

She closed solidly from worse than midfield in the NZ Derby against the boys, to be beaten just 0.6 lengths and was then a very solid second in the Vinery behind Single Gaze at her first Australian run last start. What we like about her is that she’s had a 2400m lead up for this in NZ and then the benefit of a run in local conditions. That combined with stepping back up to 2400m here and settling off a genuine early speed is a nice scenario for her to take a good step forward in her ratings to a new peak. She’s right among the genuine chances.

7. Sofia Rosa (12) $14 MKT: $8.50

She was run down right on the line in the NZ Oaks and that form certainly has to be respected, but we would have preferred her to have an Australian lead up into this race, like Valley Girl and Capella. She’s definitely in the mix, but it’s hard to find any betting appeal.

8. Diamond Rose (5) $61 MKT: $34

She was visually impressive winning the Adrian Knox last Saturday but there was very little substance in the figures. She doesn’t look good enough.

9. Alaskan Rose (6) $51 MKT: $34

She finished off well when second to Diamond Made in the Adrian Knox last Saturday, but that race looks well below the standard needed here.

10. Capella (15) $8.00 MKT: $9.50

She was 0.5L fourth in the NZ Derby before a very solid 1.8L 5th to Single Gaze in the Vinery when unsuited by the slow speed and covering plenty of extra ground when very wide on the home turn. Similar to Valley Girl, she’s had the benefit of a 2400m run in NZ and then a lead up in local conditions. She’s well equipped to handle a genuinely run 2400m here and is another that is easy to forecast running a new peak.

11. Chabaudd (2) $101 MKT: $41

Comes off a sixth placing in a Caulfield 3YO Open and a peak rating of 91.5. That’s nowhere near the profile of an ATC Oaks winner.

12. self Esteem (14) $51 MKT: $35

Did some work from a wide draw before leading the Vinery and battling on well, beaten just 1.5 lengths behind Single Gaze. Her problem here is stepping up from a soft run 2000m to a genuinely run 2400m out of a similar wide barrier. It’s hard to see her making the improvement necessary.

13. Happy Hannah (7) $3.90 MKT: $4.60

She’s a lightly raced Filly on a sharp improvement spiral and looks one likely to run to a big new peak here, potentially at a level consistent with the historical winners of this race. She was slowly away in the Vinery and got too far back off the slow pace, but clocked outstanding sectionals in the run home and hit the line powerfully. The quality of her splits is consistent with a horse that can run in the 101 to 103 rating range given suitable conditions and the step up to 2400m looks an ideal scenario for her to achieve that. She handles the sting out of the ground, is drawn perfectly for this track and has a top jockey riding. There’s plenty of like about her in this race.

14. Believe (11) $81 MKT: $51

She worked hard early in The Vinery before weakening to be beaten 4.8L behind Single Gaze. She could improve here, but the jump from her peak rating of 93 to what will be needed to get into this mix for this race looks far too great.

15. Zasorceress (4) $201 MKT: $101

Led and was run down to finished third, beaten 1.2L behind Diamond Made in the Adrian Knox last Saturday. Prior to that she was well beaten in VIC Provincial Maidens, which in itself is a pointer to the substandard nature of that Adrian Knox. She looks outclassed.

16. Auroras Star (14) $251 MKT: $126

She was beaten on the turn in a well below average Adrian Knox Stakes last Saturday. She looks outclassed.

Betting Strategy

The Vinery Stakes looks the right form line here and we’re keen on those with the improvement profile that could see them run to clear new peaks, as historical winners of the Oaks typically do.

Jameka deserves enormous respect, but given there’s no betting appeal in her price we’re happy to work around her, subject to the price of three key runners below.

 BACK (WIN) – Happy Hannah at $4.20+ (1.3% of total bank)

 BACK (WIN) Valley Girl at $9+ (0.6% of total bank)

 BACK (WIN) Capella at $9+ (0.6% of total bank)

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